Tag Archives: art

Photo Challenge: A Tour of Michigan’s Cascades, Gentle and Wild

There is a waterfall in every dream. Cool and crystal clear, it falls gently on the sleeper, cleansing the mind and soothing the soul.
–Virginia Alison

A tour of Michigan would be incomplete  without pausing  along the way to listen to the music of  waterfalls, from a gentle stream near my home to the crescendo of  a roaring river in the forest primeval of the Upper Peninsula.

Photo Challenge:  Tour Guide  

 

Fleming Creek, Michigan

Au Sable River

Iargo Springs, Michigan

Tacquamenon Falls, Michigan

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WPC, Tour Guide: Mildly Intoxicating Feeling of Beauty

The enjoyment of beauty has a peculiar, mildly intoxicating quality of feeling. Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.

–Sigmund Freud

Nothing quite as serene as  a summer sunset over a local Michigan lake,  the sky lit by a golden glow and a stillness in the air.

Photo Challenge:  Tour Guide 

Newburgh Lake, Michigan

Newburgh Lake, Michigan

Saturday Monet: Atmosphere, Light, and Life

For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.

Claude Monet

Photo Challenge: First Green Shoots of Spring

While confronting  the stark white and icy blues of the polar vortex, a Michigander’s thoughts may turn to the first green shoots of Spring.

While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
–William Wordsworth

Photo Challenge:  Growth  

Fleming Creek, Michigan

Photo Challenge: Ascent in Ancient Pines

Looking up through the canopy provided by these ancient white pines in Michigan.  Having first visited these woods as  a boy,  I can say with Wordsworth:

While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years.

Photo Challenge:  Ascend 

 

Hartwick Pines, Michigan

Hartwick Pines, Michigan

Photo Challenge: On the Verge of Night

Twilight at a Michigan lake:  time is suspended, poised between retreating day and approaching night.

Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.

Antoine Saint Exupery

Photo Challenge:  Temporary   

Newburgh Lake, Michigan

Fate and Heroism; a Musical Storm

Tacquamenon Falls, Michigan

As Georges Danton was to the French Revolution—“Audacity, audacity, and  always audacity!”—so Ludwig van Beethoven was to music in their time.

Beethoven battled to create a musical revolution, to free  the present from the past, a revolutionary tempest deposing  aristocratic elegance.  On an autumn evening,  I looked forward to Sturm und Drang in musical form, courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

With a biting chill in the night air, winter served notice that its arrival was not far off, and the mild, sunny days of fall must give way.  Inside Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, with its elegant decorations and muted light, warmth would well  up from the music on  stage .

The evening’s musical program began with a pleasant surprise, a mood piece unfamiliar to me.  A discordant modern arrangement followed, with the evening’s anticipated musical sparks to be struck after the intermission.

After the brief respite, the musicians, in their black-and-white formal wear, returned to their places.  The conductor strode briskly to the podium to generous applause.  When he raised his baton, the orchestra came to life, like toy soldiers suddenly animated in a Christmas fantasy.  The string section played the most recognizable opening bars in music, the staccato notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  Fate knocking.  Drawn in by the magnetism, the audience leaned forward in their seats.

The ominous tones of Fate were–after some lighter fare– answered by the clarion call of Heroism in the final movement, sung in shining tones  by the brass instruments.  In a liberation  of emotion, the Hero triumphed in aggressive chords driving to  the finale.  The audience, released from the music’s grip, responded with its own storm of applause.

The symphony is symbolic of Beethoven himself, or of the Revolutions of his time, if you prefer.

Strolling out again into the crisp night, I found myself reflecting that the heroic spirit of Beethoven’s Fifth lies dormant in our time.  It is perhaps sleeping in a vault with old clips of John F. Kennedy speaking, his finger jabbing the air.  Or captured on grainy film of Jackie Robinson dancing on the base paths, and  facing down the racists as he broke major league  baseball’s color bar.

Today, we are in desperate need of men and women to take up the baton, to show audacity in the face of today’s pervasive cynicism and nihilism.   Fate is knocking, yet we await Heroes to answer the call.